This is a great time of year to determine the health of a tree.

Trees spend the spring pushing out new leaves, then twig elongation with more new foliage occurs. The tree is using a lot of it’s stored energy to do these things, and most trees can appear to be healthy and productive. As summer moves along toward fall, trees that are stressed or weakened may now begin to show signs of a problem.

If there is a question of a nutrient deficiency, it can be seen at this time. Certain missing nutrients can be observed by looking at particular discoloration patterns in the leaf. This is the time of year to perform a foliar nutrient analysis, if needed, by sending leaf samples to a diagnostic laboratory.

If your tree is looking like fall is already here, there may be a different problem. Trees that are stressed can start dropping their leaves in August, which is too early for “normal” fall abscission. A tree that is losing it’s leaves now is likely stressed- it has suffered from drought injury, disease injury, or some other environmental problem. These specimens should now be evaluated by a competent arborist to see if a cause can be determined, and get the tree on a program to lead it on the path to recovery, if possible. Possible solutions could include bio-stimulant treatments, fertilization, microinjections, as well as some cultural relief such as increased watering, mulching (or removal of excess mulch), pruning, or many other options. Where as there are several possible problems, some of which may compound other symptoms, there may be several solution recommendations.

In the North Shore, many trees I have seen dropping leaves were drought stressed from last summer. Some have had foliar diseases that have weakened the leaves due to the very wet and cool spring we had this year, which was very conducive to disease infections. A hurricane/ tropical storm can also cause a lot of desiccation of the leaf, which could also lead to leaf loss. Crabapples, birches, and sugar maples are three species I tend to see dropping leaves early every year due to these types of problems.

If you feel that your trees are in fall while you are still in summer, it might be a good time to contact your certified arborist for a routine evaluation. Seeing trees now that are stressed can lead to the implementation of a program to put them on the road to recovery.

Jeff